By Father Kevin M Cusick
As I age and, I trust, grow in wisdom, some of it painfully acquired, I have learned to value simple, ordinary, everyday kindness. The value of treating everyone with the love of human respect and sincerity can never be overestimated. Parishioners and others come to me almost daily with many and varied requests. Responding with equanimity to each goes a long way toward spreading contentment and serenity to all. And our hagiographers, if we are so blessed, will no doubt one day thank us for it.
All the which make it so much more difficult to understand why we are engaged in a systematic persecution of our most generous and loyal Catholics.
There is a group in the Church which, per capita, has more children, gives more money and volunteers more, all the while praying unceasingly for the pope and the Church. They believe all that the Church teaches in matters of faith and morals with full assent of intellect and will; the very definition of unity. They are the much-maligned traditional Catholics. Their crime? Loving the same Mass their parents and or grandparents loved. And their grandparents before them. Why? They are slandered unjustly as fomenting disunity.
This while bishops, cardinals and priests are truly guilty of disunity who, while exclusively offering the new Mass fielded after Vatican II, promote the disunifying errors of Communion for adulterers and unions for same sex twosomes. Just for starters. This only makes the persecution all the more inscrutable and compounds the outrage in the sight of Almighty God.
My parish family just celebrated with me this month my 30thanniversary of ordination. Some natal family members joined us as well. We enjoyed a happy day of reveling in the Lord’s blessings of faith and love. We offered a high Mass together and afterward decamped to the parish hall which was filled with guests for a delicious feast. Our parish life is deeply satisfying. Not just because we are a family which finds love in our relationships with one another. That is important, very much so.
No, what we find most of value in our communal life is the worthy and beautiful way in which we give glory to God, as the Church has done for millennia. We take joy and draw faith from being part of the Church of always, a rooted existence and strong antidote to the world of what’s happening now.
The body itself becomes more of a burden with every passing day. Tending to its weaknesses and offering up its unavoidable pains proves a most comforting reparation for past sins. Such wisdom gained with suffering by our elders is a treasure passed on with love to those who follow. One rightfully expects one’s pastors to find themselves settling down into this wisdom and living it by example as they age.
Which makes the cruelty of our ecclesial masters all the more painful to bear. With the horror of Traditionis custodes looming like a Damocles sword over our heads for almost a year now, the malignity of the world and its tortures are just beyond the door of our church and our homes, and threatening to invade our lives, peacefully formed and informed by our immemorial faith and worship. The two are conjoined and only with great violence are ripped apart, disrupting our lives and threatening our childrens’ futures.
From pulling apart the hands of praying altar boys at the Vatican to attempting to shut down the ancient Mass beloved by Catholics all over the world, the cruelties of this pontificate have become difficult to catalog in their multiplicity. Now the men in preparation for priesthood for years in Bishop Rey’s French diocese have been told by Rome they must delay their ordinations because of diocesan vocation policies and seminary hiring practices. Breathlessly vicious.
If these injustices weren’t accompanied at the same time by so many examples of obsequious kindness to malefactor bishops and priests they might be more palatable. But this from a pope who goes out of his way to harbor bishops and other clerics who are wanted by the law in their own countries for sexual crimes, in some cases against youth as with Bishop Zanchetta. He was finally found guilty and sent to prison in the pope’s native Argentina for predation against seminarians. This after being harbored in the Vatican with a position specially created for him by his Argentine friend in white. He now seeks to serve his sentence via house arrest in a monastery due to claims of ill health.
The Church is a mother, tender in her love for all her children. But what we have seen since 2013 is systematic persecution of church-going Catholics who simply want to live and love the faith of our fathers. The holy Mass of all time is our only remaining defense against popes and bishops who seem to know only what they hate: the Catholic Faith. This while they pour praise upon and encourage adulation for the world. The Earth, universal brotherhood, exaltation of paganism and false worship, global warming, ecumenism, diversity. The list of all those things that come in importance before the Catholic Faith itself seems to grow longer by the day.
The pope may be suffering from cancer. I pray he is not. But he has rushed to name new cardinals with a consistory scheduled for August, the most cruel of months in Rome. And he has scheduled a visit almost at the same moment to the tomb of a pope famous for resigning. The same pope and tomb visited by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI before he famously resigned. Which has led to speculation that Francis may be planning to do the same.
Is the pope’s vindictive naming of Bishop McElroy of San Diego as cardinal his last salvo against the American bishops, with whom he has not enjoyed a cooperative relationship, for which many remain thankful? McElroy is not so sure of anything as he is that abortion is not a pre-eminent issue while acceptance of LGBTQ activity and marital simulation is ever more pressing in the agenda of the Church. He is the black to the white of the vast majority of the USCCB. Which made him the perfect fly in the American ointment for this cruel pope.
In my little parish of just over 100 families we don’t know what will happen to us next in terms of worldly cruelty. But we know and believe in a kind and gentle Lord who loves us so very much to have bequeathed a beautiful and ancient tradition of prayer for which we are willing even to lay down our lives. No bishop or pope, no matter how vicious, can take that joy away from us.
Our Lord never guaranteed that our worst and bloodiest persecution wouldn’t come from our own bishops and Church. Saint Joan of Arc can tell us all about that. May she intercede for us. We’ll need it.
Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Thank you also for visiting apriestlife.blogspot.com, now with over 1 million pageviews.
(A version of this column was published by The Wanderer Catholic Newspaper on June 16, 2022.)